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8/10/2022 By Megan Burns

KCIC’s complaint database, which houses approximately 90% of total asbestos filings nationwide, puts us in a unique position to be able to report on asbestos litigation trends. We report our findings annually in our Asbestos Year in Review each spring. We also like to provide a mid-year look at filings to see how the data compares year-to-year.

On average, there is about a one-month lag between when a lawsuit is filed and when KCIC receives it for processing. Therefore, looking at data received through July 31 gives us a good approximation of mid-year status.

By Disease
From January 1 through July 31, KCIC received 1,914 asbestos personal-injury lawsuits that were filed in 2022. That represents a 3% decrease in total number of filings received over the same time period 2021 and a 7% increase in filings received over the same time period in 2020.

Table 1 shows the total filings received through July 31 each year 2019 – 2022 by disease, along with the percentage change from 2021 to 2022.

Figure 1 shows the disease mix through July 31 each year 2019 — 2022: the percentage of total filings for each disease.

The increase in mesothelioma filings compared to this time last year is due to increases from firms such as Maune Raichle Hartley French & Mudd (34% increase) and Early Lucarelli Sweeney & Meisenkothen (122% increase), which offset decreases in mesothelioma filings by Simmons Hanley Conroy (5% decrease) and The Gori Law Firm (10% decrease). The decrease in lung cancer filings so far in 2022 compared to the same period in 2021 is attributable to fewer filings by The Gori Law Firm (15% decrease), SWMW (39% decrease), and Flint Cooper (46% decrease).

By Jurisdiction
Table 2 shows the top 10 jurisdictions based on mid-year 2022 filings, along with total filings as of July 31 each year 2020 – 2021. It also shows the nominal change in filings received by July 31 in both 2021 2022 as well as the percentage change, and the percent of the 2022 total.

Looking at jurisdiction, Madison County, IL, filings make up 26% of total 2022 mid-year filings—down 3% compared to the same time last year, which is in line with the 3% decrease in total filings. The largest decrease in filings within these top jurisdictions (based both on nominal and percentage change) occurred in St. Clair, IL, where we have seen 33% fewer filings to date (110 fewer nominal filings than received through the same time last year). This difference is due to fewer lung cancer filings in that location by The Gori Law Firm, Flint Cooper, and SWMW Law. The largest increase in filings within these jurisdictions (again based on both nominal and percentage change) occurred in Wayne, MI. In Wayne, there have been three times as many non-malignant claims filed compared to the same time last year–the increase due almost entirely to filings by Mazur & Kittel.

By Plaintiff Firm
In Table 3, the top 10 plaintiff firms based on 2022 mid-year filings are shown along with the same data point comparisons. Of the top firms, SWMW Law had the largest nominal decrease in filings compared to the same time last year, and Flint Cooper had the largest percentage decrease in filings. Both firms’ decreases were attributable mostly to fewer lung cancer filings in St. Clair, IL, and St. Louis, MO. Of these top firms, the greatest nominal and percentage increase in filings was by Mazur & Kittel, due to the increase in nom-malignant claims discussed above. Napoli Shkolnik also increased filings by 53% compared to this time last year with more lung cancer filings in Madison County, and Maune Raichle Hartley French & Mudd increased filings 33% compared to this time last year – with more mesothelioma filings in Madison County.

Looking Ahead
What might we be able to expect for the rest of this year?

By July 31 in each of the past five years, KCIC has received, on average, 51% of what ended up being the total annual filings. Based on this metric, total 2022 filings can be estimated at 3,773. That would represent a 1% decrease in annual filings compared to 2021[1]. By disease, we can estimate increases of 6% for mesothelioma filings, 15% for other cancer filings, and 29% for unknown/unstated disease filings compared to 2021. We can estimate decreases of 13% for lung cancer filings and 1% for non-malignant filings compared to 2021.

Using these projected total filings for 2022, Figure 2 shows how total filings, as well as total mesothelioma and lung cancer filings, would compare to 2017 – 2021.

It is too early to know for certain if these mid-year trends will hold steady throughout the end of the year. However, mid-year observations are certainly an interesting preview of what the asbestos litigation filings picture may look like for all of 2022.

[1] As of 7/31/2021 we had received 47% of total 2021 filings received to date.

Megan Burns

About Megan Burns

Megan Burns combines her broad technical skills with an ability to lead client teams on a variety of projects. For example, she helps clients deploy KCIC’s Ligado Platform for claims management — helping manage their mass-tort data, especially in the asbestos personal injury arena.

Learn More About Megan